Christian Imperialism Update #9: Green Dominionism
Many evangelical Christians were stunned last week when the national news media carried the story of leading evangelicals signing "The Evangelical Climate Initiative." This document, subtitled "Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action" spoke of global warming as a reality and called for urgent action to safeguard the environmental issue of climate change.
The public reaction to this document was narrowly based on looking at this issue from the typical Left-Right political lens. In fact, the document was issued with a strong dialectic of opposing voices within evangelicalism.
BUT, it is a mistake to look at this global warming document solely in terms of the POLITICAL dominionism sect of evangelicalism. The greening of evangelicalism has been coming into evangelism via both the mission sect and the prayer warfare sect of dominionism! The call for environmental stewardship within evangelicalism is inextricably tied to the dominionist doctrines that are emerging from these two sects. To understand the background on this point, please read the article posted at Discernment Ministries' website [ http://www.discernment-ministries.org ] entitled "Dominionism and the Rise of Christian Imperialism."
The original Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism held in 1974 included a paragraph 9 in the Covenant that said, "All of us are shocked by the poverty of millions and disturbed by the injustices which cause it. Those of us who live in affluent circumstances accept our duty to develop a simply life-style in order to contribute more generously to both relief and evangelism."
A subsequent document prepared a few years later, entitled "An Evangelical Commitment to Simple Life-style: Exposition and Commentary by Alan Nichols," reflected the views of an International Consultation on Simple Life-style held at Hoddesdon, England in 1980. Instigated by Ron Sider, this document called for a radical restructuring of wealth, both personally and corporately at a global level, including a call for evangelicals to embrace a lifestyle of voluntary poverty.
This document did not have much impact on evangelicalism at large at the time. This is because of the widespread influence of the 1980s decade of evangelical media glitz, glitter and glamour. The "name it and claim it" faith teachers such as Bakkers, Copeland, Hagin and other TV evangelists lived a rich and luxurious lifestyle and promised incredible wealth to every believer who followed their heretical teachings.
But this Lausanne-spawned document did have an impact on the mission movement, and this was reflected in the next 25 years in subsequent global mission statements. The Green ethic was taught at Bible schools and seminaries and began to quietly influence a new generation of evangelical mission leaders. By the late 1980s the drum began to beat loudly for a fulfillment of the Great Commission by the year 2000. Within the "Global Evangelization Movement" there was a renewed call for evangelical Christians to embrace a lifestyle of sacrificial sustainability in order to give all of their monies to the burgeoning mega-mission cause. The "Kaleidoscopic Global Action Plan" issued by prominent mission leaders in 1990 indicated that most of this money was going to go into building a high-tech computer database of networked international mission groups. It would further the dominionism agenda.
PRAYER WARFARE SECT
The newfound environmental concerns can best be understood by examining the new doctrines that have been issuing out of the Prayer Warfare sect of dominionism for the past several decades. The architects of this movement, have been teaching a radical form of dominionism which is cloaked in the language of "stewardship" of the Earth. This has been done by linking the Great Commission Matthew 28 "mandate" to "make" disciples of "all nations" to the Genesis 1 "mandate" to have "dominionism" (stewardship) over the Earth.
The prayer warfare sect has gradually been incorporating pagan doctrines into Christianity, which include variant forms of GEOMANCY (literally "divination of the Earth"). They have been teaching that there is a spiritual significance to the land -- the actual earth on which we live --and that certain geographical areas have "powers" that are good (such as open "portals" to heaven) or bad (such as those that need "cleansing" from demonic strongholds). These heresies emphasize spiritual warfare ACTIVITIES that either 1) invoke more power from God over parts of the earth, or 2) cleanse the earth from powers of Satan. These doctrines are based on the erroneous premise that Satan was not defeated at the Cross and therefore the Church (as an "incarnation" of Christ) must defeat him by engaging in these "cleansing" of the land activities.
George Otis, Jr. of the "Transformation" video series (see yesterday's post), has been articulating this view of the sacredness of the land since his earliest writings. He is an influential leader who spans both the prayer warfare and mission dominionist movements. His concept of spiritual mapping is a combination of 1) "mapping" the geological locations of supposed spiritual strongholds of the devil for the purpose of engaging in warfare against him and 2) computer databanking of information of people groups in this geological location for the purpose of conducting "evangelization." Otis' book The Last of the Giants: Lifting the Veil on Islam and the End Times (Chosen Books, 1991), includes a chapter on "The Earth Is the Lord's" based on Psalm 24:1 "The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it (NASB)."
There are quite a few verses in the Bible that indicate that the Earth is the Lord's, and traditionally these verses have been viewed in context as pertaining to the sovereignty of God. But Otis puts a humanist dominionist twist on this verse:
"My question of the Lord was a simple one: If the earth really was His, then why did there seem to be so little evidence of it? In His goodness, the Lord reponded gently. The earth is Mine, He said, in the same manner that Canaan belonged to Israel -- it is rightfully owned, but unpossesed. The latter is your responsibility." (p. 25) [emphasis added]
Otis' warfare and mission dominionism is also reflected in this comment from page 228 of this book: "If Christians -- especially in the West -- are truly serious about fulfilling the Great Commission and bringing back the King, then a major redeployment of personnel and finances is in order." [emphasis added] In other words, it is up to human effort to create an environment on earth for Jesus to return. This environment to the dominionists is both spiritual and physical. They believe they must set up His kingdom for Him, and they must "incarnate" Christ by their activities.
"The Evangelical Climate Change" document is simply the most current manifestation of the confluence of these doctrines. While most view it as a political statement (and indeed it is!), it is also a religious statement that indicates that there is now a MOVEMENT to "advance" the "kingdom" of God on Earth. Because many of these evangelical leaders teach this pagan concept of "sacred space" (a variant of "geomancy"), they believe that the EARTH itself is sacred. This is not unlike the teachings of the New Agers; e.g. James Lovelock and his "Gaia hypothesis." They must prepare this Earth to be sacred for the arrival of the "King," and this "stewardship" includes working to return it to a Genesis 1 pre-Fall condition. Nowhere is this doctrine more evident than in the recent "Transformation" videos by George Otis, Jr.
It is good to be reminded of the absolute sovereignty of God.
"Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? . . . . Have ye now known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundation of the earth? It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitaants thereof are grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in . . . . To whom then will liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. . . . Hast hou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding." (excerpted verses from Isaiah 41)